SAN ANTONIO - Looking for a hot spot for Chinese food? Sichuan House may be bringing the kind of heat your palate desires.
"This is an opportunity for us to showcase some of the food from our region of the county, which is Sichuan," Kristina Zhao said.
Zhao inherited her passion for her native cuisine from her father. The family owns an Asian market in San Antonio. Three years ago, they decided to try their hand at owning a restaurant at 3505 Wurzbach Rd.
"We just want to do our best to put out good food, share our culture and have people come back and visit us," Zhao said.
Sichuan is recognized as one the eight culinary styles of Chinese food. The fare definitely has a flaming reputation for being ablaze with mouth-numbing spices: Think palatal sensation, not Novocaine.
"Sichuan is very well known for the spicy and numbing profiles, but it's actually very intricate," Zhao said. "There are more than 28 now-defined flavor profiles."
The food at their restaurants uses classic Sichuan recipes. Zhao said they have a blend of home-styled favorites and some banquet-style dishes, too. However, not everything on the menu is spicy. Modifications can be made to most dishes.
Sichuan House rules are simple: Ask for suggestions if you don't understand the menu, make yourself at home and eat, eat, eat.
Neighborhood Eats was provided with a taste test starting with the restaurant's popular green beans sauteed with garlic and ginger. Internally, the green beans are jokingly called "crack beans" because of their additive nature. Admittedly, these are great green beans!
On the appetizer side of the table, we tried sweet and spicy peanuts cooked in chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns. Pleasant.
The crushed Persian cucumbers with garlic were a chilly delight.
Sichuan House's spicy and savory shrimp was just as delicious: Fried shrimp, red chili and Sichuan peppercorn. Depending on the chew, it may bite back with a mouth-numbing sensation.
The garlic eggplant is good, too. It's as sweet and sour as it is tangy and spicy.
For those who love bold profiles in spice, the dry pot beef might be worth your time. It is like eating layers of robust cloves then tackling intense fiery hot peppers. Beef, stewed chili, Sichuan peppercorn, pickled and jalapeno peppers, woodear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic and ginger make up the dish.
Sichuan House has an adage printed on its menu that might explain it all: "China is the place for food. Sichuan is the place for flavor."